February is Heart Health Awareness month, and February 14th is National Organ Donor Day.
I come from a very large, very close, extended family, and when I say we’re close, I mean we’re really close. Talk and text and facebook all the time close. So when something bad happens to someone, the ripples can be felt throughout the family.
February of last year was undoubtedly the worst month of our lives. Hell, 2015 was the worst year of my life. On February 10th, 2015, my cousin Madison was hit by a car while out riding her bike.
Madison was one of those truly beautiful people who come along so rarely in this world. Yes, Madison was gorgeous, but she also had the kindest, brightest, most generous, happiest, and most good spirit I’ve ever encountered. And that’s pretty much how everyone who ever met her felt. She loved to cook and bake and drink tea, she led yoga groups and was notorious for going hiking in sundresses. And she sang – all of the time.
Maddy was 20 years old and a student at Walla Walla University, a private Seventh-Day Adventist college in Walla Walla Washington. She was studying Spanish and Nutrition, hoping to expand her missionary work with the Adventist Church after graduation. She was wearing a helmet, and a neon orange reflective vest as she rode away from a campus coffee house on the afternoon of February 10th. The area around Walla Walla quickly sprawls into rural farms, and it was on a sunny road running between two fields that she was hit. The driver of the car behind the car involved in the accident was a volunteer firefighter and was able to perform CPR on Maddy until paramedics arrived. She was airlifted to Harborview Hospital in Seattle and rushed into trauma surgery. Madison’s mother was able to ride in the helicopter with her and the medics to Seattle, the rest of their immediate family, and some close friends, drove through the night across the state to reach Seattle in the wee hours of the morning. As word of Madison’s accident spread across campus and through the Adventist community, prayer groups and candle lit vigils sprouted up and spread around the world.
At the hospital intensive care unit, as hours turned into days, Maddys prognosis grew dimmer and dimmer. The waiting room and hallways surrounding the ICU were filled with friends and family, and the entire school choir showed up and began singing softly in the hallways around the nursing station. Finally, on February 12th, Madison’s parents were faced with a decision that no parent should have to make, the decision to take her off of life support.
But there’s one more thing you should know about my cousin, and that is that she was a truly generous person, and has quite literally given the shirt off her back to someone in need. Maddy was so generous, that when she first got her driver’s license, she immediately signed up as an organ donor. The rest of that terrible day was filled with final goodbyes and the paperwork for Maddy’s final, most generous gift. Late in the afternoon on February 13th, Maddy was prepped for surgery, and the process for her soft tissues, bone marrow, and internal organs to be harvested began.
Through her donations, Madison was able to help improve research into life threatening diseases and changed the lives of over 10 people. The most poignant maybe, being her heart, which was successfully transplanted on February 14th, Valentine’s Day.
Please consider becoming an organ donor and one day, through tragedy, you might save someone else’s life.
Visit Donate Life for more info.
More of Madison’s story can be found at Prayers For Maddy.
GUEST BLOGGER: Chelsea Heptig
Chelsea lives in Southern California where her main goals are to perfect her flip flop tan and avoid traffic on the 405. She’s a self proclaimed Jill of all trades and was a nanny for 10 years, as well as a wedding cake baker, organic gardener, elderly care giver, restaurant manager, teaching assistant, and swim instructor. In her free time Chelsea enjoys drinking wine, cooking, reading, and taking naps on the beach.
Featured image via.